Unveiling the new general manager aptitude test. Are you destined for front-office glory, or will you be left on the farm?
Several months ago in this space you may have seen the Baseball Skipper Aptitude Test (BSAT), a semi-tongue-in-cheek battery of questions designed to tease out the thought processes of managerial candidates and identify those who may be a little more forward-thinking. In response to that piece, I received a number of reader requests to develop a similar set of questions for general manager candidates, and the results can be found below for your enjoyment. Coming up with questions for GMs is a lot harder than it is for field managers, since the job of the GM is far more varied, far more important, and in most cases far less visible. Making it even harder is the fact that GMs as a group, at least to my untrained eyes, seem to be making fewer and fewer cringe-inducing decisions than they used to, reducing the number of obvious targets for gentle ribbing in the questions. I hope you enjoy them nonetheless.
Attempting to turn a perennial contender with early post-season exits into a champion.
Stepping in as the general manager for the Minnesota Twins, even for a day, is a somewhat daunting task. Ask around the league and you’ll hear franchise after franchise, at least those in the “Accord/Split-Level/Vacations In Orlando” economic strata, talk about how they want to model their organizations after the Twins. While some of the traits attributed to the Twins in the media, such as their commitment to “small ball” and how they “play the game right,” seem more like a projection of how outsiders familiar with the Upper Midwest mostly through Fargo and A Prairie Home Companion would expect a Minnesota franchise to play than how the Twins actually go about their business, there’s no doubting their success or how they’ve achieved it. The Twins have managed to win six division titles in nine years, and have done so with a payroll that has only twice broken the $70 million mark. They’ve achieved this due to a productive player development system and a commitment to avoiding crippling long-term contracts—a responsible, conservative business plan that leads to success, stability, and rather boring Hot Stove seasons in the Gopher state.
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Examining the answers of the Baseball Prospectus team when it comes to the Baseball Skipper Aptitude Test.
When last we met in this space, I shared with you the Baseball Skipper Aptitude Test (BSAT), a semi-tongue-in-cheek multiple-choice exam designed to help identify quality managerial candidates based on their approach to such things as lineups, bullpen usage, and in-game strategy. My purpose was primarily to entertain, but a number of readers have asked that we divulge the “correct” answers, or at least the answers to which most Baseball Prospectus authors would subscribe. To that end, earlier this week I took a quick poll to discover how our staff members would answer these questions, and you can find the results below. I’m not surprised to report that some of the questions provoked a wide array of responses, and given the pulsing intellect and contrarian nature of our authors, a fair number chose to occasionally go outside the menu with their answers. .
With such a strong, affordable core, the future in Florida depends on the progression of the kids.
When considering the franchises for which you might want to serve as GM for a Day, arguments can be made for the Florida Marlins as both the most- and least-appealing franchise to take a stab at. While this year’s squad finished just below .500 and could never quite pull itself into the NL East race, few clubs can boast Florida’s collection of young, under-compensated talent and lack of regretful long-term commitments—exactly the recipe for building a consistent winner in a small market. However, the Marlins have other issues which make them far less attractive than they ought, issues which are touched on by my proposed mission statement.
Unveiling the skipper aptitude test. How do you measure up?
Good afternoon, gentlemen—and lady! How cool is that?! I’d like to thank you all for coming in today to take our Baseball Skipper Aptitude Test. As you all know, we like to consider ourselves a forward-thinking organization, and we feel that having you take this short examination will give us more insight into the qualities you possess, your decision-making processes, and the opinions you have which might affect how you would perform in our organization. Since we’re a small-market club we could only afford to hire a professional proctor for one day, hence the rather unique decision to bring you all in at the same time to take this test.
It seemed that nothing could go wrong for the Giants during their matchup with Philadelphia.
If every baseball game is a short story, Tuesday's NLCS Game Three featured three interwoven narratives: a classic pitching matchup featuring 26-year-old starters Matt Cain and Cole Hamels, the lineup machinations of Giants manager Bruce Bochy and Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel, and the continued post-season star turn of husband, father, slugger, teammate and all-around great interviewCody Ross. Cain and Hamels lived up to expectations, churning out another data point in support of the old adage that great pitching stops great hitting, one manager saw each of his decisions hit the jackpot, and one of those decisions helped Ross once again deliver in the clutch in support of a 3-0 Giants victory, giving San Francisco a 2-1 series edge.
My apologies for giving this piece a title more suited to a Sufjan Stevens song than a baseball article, but I’m a little bit hyper today. Like many of you, I’m struggling through this two-day break before the playoffs begin again on Friday night, featuring an ALCS showdown between the Texas Rangers, coming off their first playoff series victory in franchise history, and the New York Yankees, who’ve won 28 playoff series and nine world championships since the Senators/Rangers franchise came into existence in 1961. Over in the senior circuit, the Giants and Phillies tee it up on Saturday night with one of the more compelling pitching matchups of recent vintage: Tim Lincecum vs. Roy Halladay, who in their two playoff starts have combined for two complete games, one no-hitter, four baserunners allowed, 23 punchouts, and 48 instances of a broadcaster saying “that pitch just wasn’t fair.” I can’t wait, because this is going to be good—in fact, given how exciting (if sloppy) the playoffs have been so far, I’m more excited about them than I’ve been in years.
Despite a last-place NL West finish, Kevin Towers is a few shrewd moves away from making the Snakes contenders.
It was a disappointing year for the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team expected to compete for the NL West title but instead plummeted to the divisional basement. Former ace starter Brandon Webb’s attempted comeback from labrum surgery was continually delayed and eventually cancelled, budding superstar Justin Upton didn’t build on his outstanding 2009 season, and a mediocre offense couldn’t overcome often poor starting pitching and a historically bad bullpen—ingredients that contributed to a 65-97 record and a mid-season pink slip for GM Josh Byrnes. Interim boss Jerry Dipoto immediately went into cost-shedding mode, shipping out veterans Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson, and Chris Snyder in exchange for prospects and payroll flexibility, before handing over the reins to former Padres GM Kevin Towers in late September. Given this and if I were Towers, what steps would I take to return the Snakes to contention--initially and in the long-run?
Some off-beat statistical milestones are within reach in the season's finals days.
With four days left in baseball’s marathon season, most eyes will be focused on the two matchups which have a direct bearing on the playoffs: the Padres/Giants pitching festival in San Francisco, and the Phillies/Braves set in Atlanta. Nonetheless, there are 13 other series to be played before we can close the books on the 2010 regular season. Often these late-season contests spark little interest outside of those with game tickets, family members on the team, or the need for a few more Joakim Soria saves to clinch their fantasy baseball championship. To add a little spice to these contests while our early-season heroes play out the string or prep for the postseason, I’ve decided to share with you a few slightly off-beat statistical milestones that could be met in the next few days. None of these numbers are as sexy as .400 or 61*, but they may help you appreciate a few of the more unexpected or unreported achievements of the 2010 season.
There is plenty of talent on hand but the bullpen is an issue.
Kiss 'Em Goodbye is a series focusing on MLB teams as their postseason dreams fade—whether in September (or before), the League Division Series, League Championship Series, or World Series. It combines a broad overview of this season from Buster Olney, a take from Baseball Prospectus, a look toward an immediate 2011 move courtesy of Rumor Central, and Kevin Goldstein's farm system overview. You can find all the teams on one page by going here.
Has Carlos Zambrano really been a "whole new pitcher" since returning to the Cubs?
Tuesday night in front of a full house at Wrigley Field, Carlos Zambrano successfully stared down the San Francisco Giants in a game the visitors desperately needed to win to maintain their wafer-thin divisional lead. While the Giants eventually scored a critical 1-0 victory, the fault didn’t lie with Zambrano, who managed to shut them out on three hits over six innings, and whose eight strikeouts gave him 1,431 for his career—one behind Charlie Root for second place on the all-time Cubs K-list.
The offensive-dependent Brewers and defensive-dependent Mariners are on the verge of becoming baseball's Light Brigades.
When I was younger, I used to play a board game called “Circus Maximus” which simulated chariot racing. At the start of the game you would have four points to assign to four categories: team speed, team endurance, chariot size, and driver skill, all of which would help your chariot in different ways at different times of the race. Any combination could win, depending on how the race unfolded, but the game required you to choose up front the factors at which your team would excel. The challenge was to follow your strengths and avoid race situations that exposed your weaknesses.